With the world still mourning Nelson Mandela's death at the age of 95 last week, PBS elected to celebrate his life by revisiting the love letters he wrote second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela while he was incarcerated on Robben Island. The excerpts, which come from Fatima Meer's Mandela biography, Higher Than Hope, are a touching look at the relationship they shared.
From a letter dated Oct. 26, 1976:
My dearest Winnie,
I have been fairly successful in putting on a mask behind which I have pined for the family, alone, never rushing for the post when it comes until somebody calls out my name. I also never linger after visits although sometimes the urge to do so becomes quite terrible. I am struggling to suppress my emotions as I write this letter.
I have received only one letter since you were detained, that one dated August 22. I do not know anything about family affairs, such as payment of rent, telephone bills, care of children and their expenses, whether you will get a job when released. As long as I don't hear from you, I will remain worried and dry like a desert.
I recall the Karoo I crossed on several occasions. I saw the desert again in Botswana on my way to and from Africa--endless pits of sand and not a drop of water. I have not had a letter from you. I feel dry like a desert.
Letters from you and the family are like the arrival of summer rains and spring that liven my life and make it enjoyable.
Whenever I write you, I feel that inside physical warmth, that makes me forget all my problems. I become full of love.
The last sentence is particularly heartwarming. Additional letters can be found here.